I was able to fly down to Los Angeles last month and join the rest of the Direct Cannabis Network team to attend the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition. The conference was sponsored by the International Cannabis Association, and was held September 16-18th at the Convention Center in downtown LA. The CWCBExpo hosted 60 exhibitor booths, 50+ seminars, and two extra days of Add-On Workshops, including an Investor Summit. There were some stellar businesses represented there, and I learned a lot about what’s going on outside of my home state of Oregon.

The Keynote speakers for this event have each had a unique impact on the legalization movement. Ethan Nadelmann, and Melissa Etheridge were Thursday’s speakers, and you could feel the energy in the room when each one finished. Nadelmann, founder and executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, spoke passionately about the responsibility of the cannabis industry to create an “equitable, conscionable, upstanding, care about your consumer, care about public health and public safety, and care about what’s good for America” industry. Melissa Etheridge, Grammy and Academy Award winning singer/songwriter echoed those sentiments, and also shared the touching story of the way cannabis helped her through recovery after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. She has made it a point to speak out in favor of legalization since then. Friday’s speaker was George Zimmer, founder of Men’s Wearhouse and zTailors, and strong proponent of California’s Proposition 19. He spoke of the right to personal freedom, and what sort of approach is necessary to forward the progress of legalization nationwide. Zimmer spoke matter of factly about the failures of the war on drugs, and the need for a new system of taxing and regulating the sale of legal cannabis.

The seminar that impacted me the most was the Cannabis in Sports panel, which I was not unexpecting. I went into this panel because I knew it would cover the medicinal aspects of cannabis use, but it was so much more than that. Presenting on the panel were Chloe Villano (Clover Leaf University), Dale Sky Jones (Oaksterdam University), Kyle Turley (Gridiron Cannabis), Nathan Jackson (writer and former NFL tight end), and Ed Breslin (Xternal). All of these presenters spoke passionately about increasing access to study the medicinal effects of cannabis, and the hypocrisy of denying athletes the use of plant medicine that could save them from the suffering caused by addictions to prescription pain medications that are pushed on them in order to extend their careers. A recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that the compound cannabidiol (CBD) aids in healing fractured bones, and past studies have shown that CBD also has neuroprotective properties. The United States government has owned a patent on the medical use of cannabis for these qualities since 1999, during which time it has consistently maintained that there are no medical benefits to using cannabis. In sports like professional football, athletes are receiving intense brain injuries that have been correlated with long term physical and mental health issues, and these neuroprotective qualities could be a game-changer for those individuals. More research needs to be done on how we can harness these effects.

There was a stellar lineup of seminars at the CWCBExpo, and I wish I could have attended them all. Cannabis industry leaders presented on every aspect of running a business in the legal cannabis industry, and what can be done to further legalization in prohibition states. Each day was packed full of information, presented by some of the top professionals in the cannabis industry nationwide, with 14 seminars sponsored by Women Grow, the largest national network of cannabis professionals with Monthly Events for women & men in 25+ cities across the country. We caught up with many of the convention speakers in the Exposition area, so check back soon for our photos and interviews to be posted.

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